In this blog post, I’m offering some sweet things to say to your husband if you’re in a little rough patch. In the past, I’ve given similar advice to your husband about things to say to you if you’re unhappy.
Maybe your Perpetual Problems as a couple are a little more difficult to manage during the holidays. Perhaps things have gotten a little tense. Here’s the thing. Words matter to men. Here’s what one Alpha Male said about it:
“You are the master of your unspoken words, but a slave to the words you have spoken” -Sir Winston Churchill
We can all be wounded by words, but men are particularly vulnerable.
I think because most men live with a contingent sense of self-worth. men are expected to be unemotional, solve problems, be reliable, etc., etc.
When you’re in a little rough patch in your marriage, your words really matter to him.
Many women complain about how their husbands’ stonewall and shut down. They imagine that their husbands are indifferent to their feelings.
But what’s more often the case, couples have a tough time getting started because of the perpetual meta-emotional mismatching of talking about feelings vs. talking about taking action.
These 7 things are carefully chosen for an otherwise good marriage that has hit a cranky time. They’re different from the kinds of things you’re saying now. Hopefully, they’ll help revive your friendship at this stressful time. I’ll try to explain my thinking behind each idea.
What is the Sweetest Thing to Say to Your Husband When You Want to Repair Your Relationship?
Try These 3 First…
- I Really Appreciate you For…
Here’s the best-kept secret in couples therapy. Most men are starving for appreciation. But don’t expect them to complain about it. That would be whining!
It’s important for him to know that you appreciate all the things he does that are positive because he’s all-too aware of what could be doing better. Lift him up a little. Praise him and be specific about what you are praising him for.
Men have several distinct roles to live up to. They’re also fathers and sons as well as husbands. Be an appreciative voice for these other roles as well. Point out to him when he is doing well for others too.
- I’m Proud of You When…
Men not only have pride, but they also want to feel proud. But there’s only so much of this good feeling they can generate for themselves. They need external validation. Unfortunately, pride is often the point of entry for affair partners.
Research conducted with men after their workplace affair has blown up reveals that over 90% reported that they slid into the affair. it’s often the case that the affair partner love-bombed them with praise and appreciation.
Keep praise and appreciation in your marriage where it belongs.
Tell him specifically when, and under what circumstances, that you feel proud of him. Specificity is power. And he’s more likely to repeat behaviors that you respect and appreciate.
- I Love You When...
Men often equate specificity with authenticity. If you just slather him with “I Love you’s” it may be hard for him to take it in.
I love you when you (text me in the middle of the day…call on your way home and ask me if I need you to pick up anything, etc.).
Your husband wants to know what makes you happy. But maybe he’s only too familiar with what makes you unhappy.
Focus on what you want…particularly if it’s something you want instead of what you’re currently getting.
I love you when… is a very elegant intervention. It’s one of the sweetest things to say to your husband to reinforce positive behavior.
The 3 above are some of the sweetest things to say to your husband. They are designed to penetrate his emotional awareness quickly. But remember to be specific about what you love, appreciate, and feel proud about him. This is about sharing a felt sense of gratitude.
Here are 4 More Sweet Things to Say to Your Husband…
- What Does This Look Like From Your Side of the Street?
I imagine you’re thinking “What? This doesn’t sound sweet at all!”
Most American men have a guy code. They’re taught from an early age not to deal with feelings or emotions. You may think that you’re showing how much you care when you ask “Honey, what do you feel about this?” But if he looks utterly confused… how sweet is that?
Meeting him where he is can be one of the best sweet things to say to your husband. Ask him in a curious, gentle way what the problem looks to him…before you ask him what it feels like.
- If It Matters to You…It Matters to Me
Make sure he knows that you want to be on his team…and that you want him on yours as well. Men are socialized to deeply value reciprocity and alliances. Give him the gift of hearing that his perspective matters to you and that you’re prepared to tackle his concerns with him. Tell him that you love him, and you’re on his side.
- I See My Part in All of This
Tell him specifically how you want to work on yourself. Your husband may think that he’s the designated problem. He may soften when he hears that you want things to work and are willing to make constructive changes.
Humbly admitting how you contribute to a problem is a profoundly sweet thing to say to your husband. Humility will give you both the power to make positive changes in your marriage.
- How Can I Make This Issue Better for You?… What Do You Need?
Remember, if your husband is like most men, he’s action-oriented. He doesn’t want to dwell on how bad he feels, he’s looking for a partner in his labors to make things better. Ask with curiosity, kindness, and sincerity.
It might be challenging to ask him what he needs when you feel that your own needs aren’t being met, or you’re feeling lonely and hurt.
However, leaning in and asking, “How can I make this better?” is a sweet thing to say to your husband when you want to repair your relationship.
Final Thoughts on What to Say to Your Husband
Think of these sweet things to say to your husband as a particular context for making repair attempts.
Gottman defines a “repair attempt” as any statement or action — verbal, physical, or otherwise — meant to reduce negativity and keep conflict manageable.
“The success or failure of a couple’s repair attempts is one of the primary factors in whether a marriage is likely to flourish or flounder.” John Gottman.
The context for this post is a couple with a rather good marriage that hit’s a minor, temporary rough patch…such as holiday stress. And it focuses on what a wife can say to her husband to repair and reconnect. These ideas are some of the sweetest things to say to your husband. I hope some of these ideas work for you.
Originally published December 23, 2019.